THOMSON - McDuffie County school officials are starting to see the benefits of an emphasis on writing and reading skills.
The county recently reported an increase in third- and fifth-grade writing scores during the 2002-2003 school year, thanks largely to the extra attention given to the writing test by teachers and administrators.
"This is the continuation of the literacy process," said Dr. Kathy Collins, the county'sassistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. "We've had a tremendous focus on literacy now for several years and it's taken several years to implement reform, but we've really focused on the reading and writing sections over the last few years."
Collins noted that teachers have been taught how to grade the state writing exam, enabling them to give a mock test during the year aimed to sharpen pupils' skills.
"We've also done a lot of work with power writing," said Dr. Collins. "Power writing is a very strategic writing process where kids follow an equation for writing. When you follow the formula, it doesn't necessarily take students to the higher levels, but it at least gives them a formula to follow."
Pupils are tested, then their skills are categorized in one of six stages, with stages four through six considered advanced. In the third grade, Dearing Elementary School led the way with 72 percent who tested in the top three stages of writing achievement.
In fifth grade, Dearing Elementary again led the way with an impressive 95 percent scoring in the top three stages. However, Norris Elementary School showed the most improvement from last year, when 64 percent scored in the top three, to this year with 86 percent.
"Our kids have done real well," Superintendent Dr. Ed Grisham said. "Those scores are very good and we're very pleased."
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